A Community Called Atonement (ACCA) is looking for a comprehensive view of atonement. He suggests that we limit ourselves when we insist on one explanation or metaphor of atonement. Each biblical metaphor, McKnight would say, carries weight but each is also insufficient on its own. He likens atonement theology to golf. Each metaphor is a different club. You wouldn’t play an entire round with a putter or wedge, and in the same way we should be willing to engage different views of atonement depending on the circumstance.
I’d like to engage a bit in McKnight’s definition of atonement. McKnight says atonement is “God’s act of resolving sin and bringing humans back home to their relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the world.” (36) There are four relationships that are restored in atonement, a person with God, self, others, and the world. McKnight may not like this, but I think I would demonstrate this view of atonement as a three-tiered cake. The bottom tier is a restored relationship with God, the second is a restored relationship with self, and the third is restored relationships with others and the world. (If I am honest I am still unsure how the relationship with the world fits.) The restored relationship with God is the foundation. None of the other relationships can be restored beyond the extent that our relationship with God has been restored. In other words my relationship with self can only be restored to the extent that my relationship with God has, and my relationship with others can only be restored to the extent that my relationship with self has been restored.